Should you be able to gab on your cell phone no matter where in Yellowstone you are? Do you need WiFi coverage in the park's lodges and restaurants? Those are tough questions for some, no brainers for others.
In the coming weeks, Yellowstone officials will be seeking public comment into those questions with meetings in Idaho Falls, Idaho, (tonight at the Best Western Cotton Tree Inn from 6 to 8), in Bozeman, Montana, (tomorrow night at the Comfort Inn, same time), and in Cody, Wyoming, (August 15th at the Park County Courthouse, same time). Written comments will be accepted through August 31st via mail, in person, or at this web site.
The friendly folks at Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility are convinced Yellowstone Superintendent Suzanne Lewis already has made up her mind on this issue, and will side with more cell phone and wireless coverage in the park.
I'm curious to learn how many folks out there think this is a good idea?
As I noted earlier this month, more cell-phone access could lead to more reductions in the ranks of park rangers and the national park experience itself, as Park Service officials in Washington looking to cut costs team with private interests to provide interpretation via cell phone.
Too, there's always the issue of solitude, which long has been a hallmark of national parks. Many folks think cell-phone use in this country is becoming incredibly rude. Some restaurants ban it, most theaters do, and there are concerns that one day soon you'll be able to talk your head off from take-off to landing on your cross-country airline flight. Do we need it in a park's backcountry?
On top of that, you could argue that cell phones and WiFi access will detract from a national park visit by serving as distractions. We already worry that our younger generations are becoming more and more detached from nature, and if we give kids more electronic devices to occupy themselves with during a national park trip, what will we have accomplished in trying to reverse this disconcerting trend?
Two-thirds of Yellowstone already is covered by cell phone towers. Do we need more?
Take a stand on this issue folks. As the saying goes, those who show up make the rules. If it can be done in Yellowstone, what national park will be able to keep out 100 percent cell phone and WiFi coverage?